Title: MSFS Military Students: Interview with Jasmin Alsaied (MSFS ’23)
Looking back at your MSFS experience, what are your overall reflections and thoughts about the program?
The MSFS program is robust and makes well-rounded students who are ready to take on challenging work after graduation. I felt like the program really prepared me for difficult conversations, exciting work, and how to proceed in the face of uncertainty. My biggest takeaway from the program was the people I got to meet and the way you learn to think critically and creatively about policy issues.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of MSFS and how did you manage to overcome it?
Coming from an engineering background, I felt like I would struggle with the different type of learning and conversations we would have in the classroom. The writing style between science and policy is very different, and I found it challenging initially to adapt. However, our classes really teach you to write in styles that are immediately effective on the job and will exercise that muscle really well. You’ll feel like an old pro by the time you leave the Hilltop.
What did you find to be the most rewarding part of MSFS?
The people! Without coming to Georgetown, I would have never had the opportunity to meet people from across the globe working on democracy, with non-governmental organizations, firms, and other businesses. It was so refreshing and so interesting to meet people from different walks of life who had different insights on problems. Georgetown also offers such a unique ability to also intimately interact with ambassadors, foreign service officers, dignitaries, activists, and politicians all working on issues we are interested in.
If you were to give advice to current as well as incoming students, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. Now read that back. And then go and seize every opportunity. Leave no stone unturned. You may have come to Georgetown knowing exactly what you want to do, but now is the time to challenge those assumptions, try something new, fail fast, and learn quickly. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
How did your experience as a military person aid you/turn out to be helpful in graduate school?
I was really surprised by how my military experience translated to the classroom. It was shocking to me how often it came up or was relevant to my assignments or classroom discussions. Something my military career prepared me for was public speaking and presentations. We do a lot of briefs and presentations and I felt like that came in handy in every single class I had.
What advice do you have for other active and military veterans who are looking to complete their graduate degrees?
Do it and do it now! Believe it or not, your experience is relevant to the classroom setting and you will get the opportunity to take these experiences and this education with you, regardless if it’s back to the service or in your future endeavors. Georgetown’s MSFS program provides a unique opportunity that highlights and underscores a lot of the work we do in the military. Having the ability to dissect it, discuss it, and critique it in an academic setting is a valuable way to become stronger critical thinkers.
Which class or professor stood out to you during this experience?
Professor Miller’s memo writing class and my class on China’s military power. Memo writing is a skill that is very heavily relied on in the military, consulting, and many other fields of work. Being able to provide a nuanced perspective in one page or less to senior leaders is a tool I’ve already started using since graduation. Before I came to Georgetown, I didn’t know how to write in that style and really enjoyed learning a new way to communicate.